10 things since my last blog post…

I’ve been pretty busy of late which has made writing another blog post a bit of a challenge since my last one in June. So here's a quick catch up on some of the things I’ve been up to in the last 5 months:

1) My story ‘Starnie’ appeared in the latest issue of Stand magazine, and another, ‘Gyurd’, is the November selection for Long Story, Short journal which you can read here.

2) Thanks to funding from a Made in Aberdeen bursary (Aberdeen City Council) I received in May, I attended two writing courses at Moniack Mhor to help develop my writing practice further and to get some time to get on with writing. I promise I’ll do a blog on the Moniack Mhor experience very soon!

3) I visited Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on behalf of Immpact to research follow-up projects to the Mother’s Journey play I wrote for them earlier in the year. As well as visiting two maternity hospitals, we got to experience the city's vast cultural activity and see so many beautiful sights nearby such as the Matopos national park, Khami Ruins and Victoria Falls. This was a special experience that I’ll never forget, and we’re hoping it will lead to long-term sustainable projects in the city’s maternity hospitals.

4) I’ve been running Beginner writing workshops at Cummings Park Community Flat for Aberdeen City Libraries’ #WriteCity writing festival. As well as being a chance to share writing skills with participants, it’s been great hearing stories about their community, their experience of the city and, in particular, their family history.

5) I’ve been asked to speak at a few events recently in relation to my writing career, such as a talk for an arts intervention project ‘Freed Market: How do we feed ourselves?’ and a presentation on what culture means to me for a Culture Aberdeen event. This Thursday I’ll be speaking at a European Cultural Connections conference about the Write Aberdeen/Write Regensburg project; on Saturday, I’ll be speaking to medicine students about the Mother’s Journey play as part of a MEDsin Global Health conference; and next Tuesday I’ll be helping run a session on Global Health and the Humanities for medicine students which will involve the students coming up with alternative endings to the play.

6) I visited Regensburg, Germany to attend the launch event of Passages, the twin city writing publication I coordinated and edited. The launch took place in September on the week of the 60th anniversary of the cities’ twinning, and featured traditional music from both regions. It was great to revisit the city and meet up with all the friends I’ve made over the past couple of years working on the project.

7) I’m currently part of the writing team for the National Theatre of Scotland’s Granite project in Aberdeen. Led by playwright and novelist Peter Arnott, the team of local playwrights are working on scenes that will form part of the final Granite production in Marischal College quadrant next March, as well as a Writers’ Night featuring our individual work.

8) I started working part-time as a Creative Project Practitioner for Aberdeen City Council's Creative Learning Team in July. So far this has involved supporting a school public art consultation, visiting the Tramway in Glasgow to see the Turner Prize nominees with art students from Aberdeen, planning upcoming professional development workshops and programmes for creatives in the city, and lots more!

9) My PhD in Creative Writing was nominated for the Ross Roy Medal for best research in Scottish Literature. Although I didn’t win, I’ve been invited to attend the Saltire Literary Awards in Edinburgh next week, which I’m really looking forward to as some of my favourite writers have been nominated for awards this year.

10) Lastly, I’ve been working away on my first novel. It wasn’t easy at first transitioning from short fiction forms to something larger, but lately I’ve been on more of a roll and have got through a fair bit. This has been a major reason for the lack of another blog post as I’ve really been trying to focus back on writing prose after being caught up in so much else. I could never commit myself to something like the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo), because I just DO NOT work at that speed, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this larger project unfolds over time…